Until we began to hear discordant tunes from him, Alhaji Azeem Gbolarumi was one of the confidants of Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State. His ‘role’ in the impeachment of Senator Rashidi Ladoja and the installation of Governor Akala was quite noticeable.
No wonder, he was rewarded and made the Deputy Governor then. After the governor eventually won the real election in 2007, he was in support. In this interview with Vanguard’s OLA AJAYI, he spoke on why he parted ways with Gov. Akala. Excerpts:
Before the death of Chief Lamidi Adedibu, his political structure was very strong. Now that Chief Adedibu is dead, it is like the structure has crumbled? What went wrong?
It is very normal. That is how it should be. You know when Jesus Christ was not physically present on earth again, his disciples went different ways. The way it is, we will still work together.
With the cold war between you and Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, do you think you two can work together again?
We are members of the same political party which means we are from the same political family. It is normal the way things are now. At the end of the day, we will work together after the primaries and vote for the winner.
Some people believe that it is only a Gbolarumi that can match Akala strength for strength in the election and that is why you have been picked to face him?
That is a fallacy. Who is Gbolarumi. Many people can tackle the incumbent governor.
But, you were instrumental to his emergence as the governor?
Yes. I played a major role then. I can say it anywhere, anytime and any day that I contributed immensely to his success as a governor. Anybody can tackle Governor Akala. For anybody to say it is only Gbolarumi that can tackle him is a mere flattery.
During his 11 months stay as governor, you were his deputy, now that he is going for the second term bid, many people think you should join hands with him to get re-elected.
No, he has played his part. He should leave for other people to govern too. So, what is he doing there again?
That means you are one of those who don’t want him to get the second term ticket.
I don’t think people can allow him to go for the second term.
But, why this sudden separation between you and the governor. When he was sworn in, you always stood by him. There were times I saw you with him. Why is it that you suddenly turned your back?
We have not parted. It is only we…..(long pause). It is only we differ in some beliefs. For instance, what he is saying is that he wants to go for second term, no, it is not even second term, it is third term. He did the first time during the 11 months, and this is another term which is the second term. It is never done.
But, the Supreme Court said it did not recognise his government during the 11 months?
Did he return the money he received? What about other things he enjoyed? Nobody can take that from him that he is a two-term governor. Since he cannot return the money he collected and the benefits he enjoyed, he has done it already and that is all.
He was sworn in on those two occasions. Would he now be sworn in the third time?
Why is it that you are not so close again?
When you saw me there, he invited me. But, now he doesn’t invite me again. He has not called me.
When last did you see him?
Uuhhh….I think I saw him about two months ago. And we discussed.
But, you cannot deny the fact that there is cold war between the two of you?
I don’t think so. I’m not fighting Akala. It is only I’m fighting for that governorship seat.
Why don’t you support him to go for the second term ticket?
It is third term. Don’t say second term again. He has been sworn in two times. You want him to be sworn in the third time. It is not done. I think it is better for him to leave that office for others.
Sometime ago, you said he could go for second term sorry, third term, according to you. Why did you suddenly withdraw your support for him?
May be by that time, I was not with myself or may be because of the interest we shared then. You know, if you love a woman, you tell her that you have never seen someone as beautiful as she is. But when you go out, you see so many women more beautiful than her.
You now say, oh is it true that I can see a better woman? People say I should come and contest for the Oyo State government seat. You know I have been busy these days with my law programme. But, opinion leaders said I should go out and contest. What would I do other than to come out and do so.
You are supporting General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd)’s presidential ambition and Governor Akala is for President Goodluck Jonathan. Do you think this could generate ill-feelings between you and the governor?
No. It can’t. See Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State. He is a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria but he is working together with the president. That doesn’t matter.
What do you think is not being done well now and you will do it better when you get there?
Many things. The party has manifestos which have not been properly executed.
The governor and yourself belonged to the same Adedibu political structure, don’t you see the structure crumbling already?
Immediately Adedibu died, the governor removed many people loyal to man. Look at Latinwo and others. He removed them and replaced them with others. It is unfair. He is just pretending. He has forgotten Adedibu who helped him to be where he is today. He has not done anything to immortalize Adedibu in this state. And Adedibu contributed one hundred percent to his success.
Everybody knows he is pretending. I doubt if God will eh eh….. I doubt.. if you bite the finger that fed you it is unfair.
A Yoruba adage says, a river doesn’t forget its source and any river that forgets its source would dry up. The repercussion is there. He is unfair to the old man.
You think he should have immortalized Adedibu?
Yes. But he has not done anything for him. Adedibu was not an ordinary person that should be forgotten so soon.